Cardinal Dolan Speaks

Cardinal Dolan Speaks

I just walked out of the New York Archdiocese office of Cardinal Timothy Dolan. We had about a 45-minute interview about the New Evangelization—you know, that topic that keeps cropping up yet very few seem to understand? We’ll be featuring this in a future of edition of St. Anthony Messengertimed to coincide with the World Synod of Bishops in October.

Dolan himself was asked by Pope Benedict to address the topic of  New Evangelization in a talk the cardinal gave in Vatican City, a day before the Mass when he would receive his “red hat” (bishops wear purple; cardinals red). Our interview was about the themes he had named in that talk.

Here’s one: A  false impression that many people overseas have of American culture is that we are, for the most part, anti-religious, Godless atheists. Dolan took that point on directly in his talk, and explained more during our interview. American media, for one, is so global, he explained, that you could see where people might get the wrong idea. We’re also known for our military might—not exactly a faith-sharing concept! If your only idea of America were the reports of violence and a few episodes of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (reruns are forever) you can see where people might think that our entire culture is secular, is anti-religious.

Of course, America is rich in religion and religious values. Foreign Catholics sometimes come here and marvel that there are so many Churches, the cardinal observed. They thought we were done with churches. Clearly they’ve gotten the wrong message.

That’s just a sliver of what we talked about. Cardinal Dolan’s a warm, welcoming, nice guy. He welcomed photographer Greg Shemitz and me into his office, offered us refreshments, and gave me his full attention for 45 minutes. He didn’t try to direct the interview.  What more could a journalist ask for? Read all about it in a future issue of my favorite magazine. 

upper photo: Archdiocese of New York

lower photo: Gregory Shemitz


About the Author

John Feister is editor in chief of St. Anthony Messenger magazine. He has a B.A. in American Studies from University of Dayton, and master's degrees in Humanities and in Theology from Xavier University. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada, and was previously an adviser to the Communications Committee of the U.S. Catholic bishops (2000-2006). His latest book, Thank You, Sisters: Stories of Women Religious and How They Enrich Our Lives is available from the Franciscan Media catalog. He has cauthored four books with Richard Rohr (Franciscan Media), and coauthored, with Charlene Smith, the biography of Thea Bowman (Orbis books).